Skip to main content

Full text of "Playboy Interview: Timothy Leary"

See other formats


PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: 1 llVlvJ 1 iT I I JL/\Ia 1 

a candid conversation with the controversial ex-harvard professor, prime partisan and prophet of LSD 



On a sunny Saturday afternoon in 
1960, beside the swimming pool of his 
rented summer villa in Cuernavaca, a 
39-year-old American ate a handful of 
odd-looking mushrooms he'd bought 
from the witch doctor of a nearby vil- 
lage. Within minutes, he recalled later, 
he felt himself "being swept over the 
edge of a sensory niagara into a mael- 
strom of transcendental visions and hal- 
lucinations. The next five hours could 
be described in many- extravagant meta- 
phors, but it was above all and without 
question the deepest religious experi- 
ence of my life." The implications of 
that fateful first communion are as yet 
unmeasured; that they are both far- 
reaching and profound, however, is 
generally conceded for the fungi 
were the legendary "sacred mushrooms" 
that have since become known, and 
feared by many, as one of the psyche- 
delic (literally, mind-manifesting) chem- 
icals that have created a national fad 
among the nation's young and a scandal 
in the press. The American was a Har- 
vard psychotherapist named Timothy 
Leary, who has since found himself trans- 
mogrified from scientist and researcher 
into progenitor and high priest of a rev- 
olutionary movement spawned not by an 
idea but by a substance that's been called 
"the spiritual equivalent of the hydrogen 
bomb." 

Few men, in their youth, would have 
seemed less likely to emerge as a reli- 
gious leader, let alone as a rebel with a 
cause. At the age of 19, Leary distressed 



his Roman Catholic mother by abandon- 
ing Holy Cross two years before gradua- 
tion ("The scholastic approach to reli- 
gion didn't turn me on"), then affronted 
his father, a retired Army career officer, 
by walking out of West Point after 18 
months ("My interests were philosophic 
rather than militaristic"). Not until he 
transferred to the University of Alabama 
did he begin to settle down academically 
to work for his B. A. in psychology. On 
graduation in 1942, he enlisted as an 
Army psychologist, served in a Pennsyl- 
vania hospital until the end of the War, 
then resumed his schooling and earned 
his Ph. D. at the University of California 
at Berkeley. Acquiring both eminence 
and enemies with his first major jobs as 
director of Oakland's progressive Kaiser 
Foundation Hospital and as an assistant 
professor at UC's School of Medicine in 
San Francisco Leary began to display 
the courage and sometimes rash icono- 
clasm that have since marked every phase 
of his checkered career. Contending that 
traditional psychiatric methods were 
hurling as many patients as they helped, 
he resigned in 1958 and signed up as a 
lecturer on clinical psychology at Har- 
vard. There he began to evolve and 
enunciate the theory of social interplay 
and personal behavior as so many stylized 
games, since popularized by Dr. Eric 
Berne in his best-selling book "Games 
People Play," and to both preach and 
practice the effective but unconventional 
new psychiatric research technique of 
sending his students to study emotional 



problems such as alcoholism where they 
germinate rather than in the textbook 
or the laboratory. 

At the time, predictably enough, few 
of these novel notions went over very 
well with Leary' s hidebound col- 
leagues. But their rumblings of skepti- 
cism rose to a chorus of outrage when 
Leary returned to Harvard in 1960 from 
his pioneering voyage into inner space 
beside the swimming pool in Cuernava- 
ca to begin experimenting on himself, 
his associates and hundreds of volunteer 
subjects with measured doses of psilo- 
cybin, the chemical derivative of the 
sacred mushrooms. Vowing "to dedicate 
the rest of my life as a psychologist to 
the systematic exploration of this new 
instrument," he and his rapidly multi- 
plying followers began to turn on 
with the other psychedelics: morning- 
glory seeds, nutmeg, marijuana, peyote, 
mescaline and a colorless, odorless, 
tasteless but incredibly potent labora- 
tory compound called LSD 23, first syn- 
thesized in 1938 by a Swiss biochemist 
seeking a pain killer for migraine head- 
aches. A hundred times stronger than 
psilocybin, LSD sent its hallucinated 
users on multihued, multileveled roller- 
coaster rides so spectacular that it soon 
became Leary 's primary tool for research. 
And as ivord began to circulate about the 
fantastic, phantasmagorical "trips" taken 
by his students, it soon became a clan- 
destine campus kick, and by 1962 had 
become an underground cult among the 




"In 3000 people that I have personally 
observed taking LSD, we've had only four 
cases of prolonged psychoses two or 
three weeks after the session. All of these 
had been in a mental hospital before." 



"An enormous amount of energy from 
every fiber of your body is released under 
LSD especially sexual energy. There is 
no question that LSD is the most power- 
ful aphrodisiac ever discovered by man." 




"I think that anyone who wants to have 
a psychedelic experience and is willing 
to prepare for it and to examine his own 
hang-ups and neurotic tendencies should 
be allowed to have a crack at it." 



young avant-garde from London to Los 
Angeles. 

By 1963, it had also become something 
of an embarrassment to Harvard, how- 
ever, which "regretfully" dismissed Leary, 
and his colleague Dr. Richard Alpert, in 
order to stem the rising tide of avid un- 
dergraduate interest in the drug. Un- 
daunted, they organized a privately 
financed research group called the Inter- 
national Foundation for Internal Free- 
dom (IFIF), and set up a psychedelic 
study center in Zihuatanejo, Mexico; but 
before they could resume full-scale LSD 
sessions, the Mexican government 
stepped in, anticipating adverse popular 
reaction, and demanded that they leave 
the country. 

Leary had now become not only the 
messiah but the martyr of the psychedelic 
movement. But soon afterward came a 
dramatic lllh-hour reprieve from a young 
New York millionaire named William 
Hitchcock, a veteran LSD voyager who 
believed in the importance of Leary's 
xvork by now a mission and toward 
that end turned over to him a rambling 
mansion on his 4000-acre estate in Mill- 
brook, New York, which has since become 
not only Leary's home and headquarters 
but also a kind of shrine and sanctuary 
for psychedelic pilgrims from all over the 
world. On April 16 of this year, it also 
became a target for further harassment 
by what Leary calls "the forces of middle- 
aged, middle-class authority." Late that 
night, a squad of Duchess County police 
descended on the place, searched it from 
top to bottom, found a minute quantity 
of marijuana, and arrested four people 
including Leary. If convicted, he could 
be fined heavily and sent to prison for 
16 years. Already appealing another con- 
viction, Leary had been arrested in La- 
redo the previous December as he was 
about to enter Mexico for a vacation, 
when Customs officials searched his car 
and found a half ounce of marijuana in 
the possession of his 18-year-old daugh- 
ter. Despite his claim that the drug was 
for scientific and sacramental use in the 
furtherance of his work and his spiritual 
beliefs (as a practicing Hindu), he was 
fined f 30, 000 and sentenced to 30 years 
in prison for transporting marijuana and 
failing to pay the Federal marijuana tax. 
hi the months since then, the LSD 
controversy has continued to escalate 
along with Leary's notoriety spurred by 
a spate of headline stories about psyche- 
delic psychoses, dire warnings of "in- 
stant insanity" from police and public 
health officials, and pious editorials in- 
veighing against the evils of the drug. In 
May and June, two Senate subcommit- 
tees conducted widely publicized public 
hearings on LSD; and three states Cali- 
fornia, Nevada and New Jersey enacted 
laws prohibiting its illicit use, possession, 
distribution or manufacture. With a 
ringing appeal for still more stringent 
legislation on a Federal level, Ronald 



Reagan even dragged the issue into his 
successful campaign for the Republican 
gubernatorial nomination in California. 
It was amid this mounting outcry 
against the drug that playboy asked Dr. 
Leary to present his side of the psyche- 
delic story and to answer a few per- 
tinent questions about its putative 
promise and its alleged perils. Consenting 
readily, he invited us to visit him in Mill- 
brook, where we found him a few days 
later reciting Hindu morning prayers 
with a group of guests in the kitchen of 
the 64-room mansion. He greeted us 
warmly and led the way to a third-floor 
library. Instead of sitting down in one of 
the room's well-worn easy chairs, he 
crossed the room, stepped out of an open 
window onto a tin roof over a second- 
floor bay window, and proceeded to 
stretch out on a double-width mattress a 
few feet from the edge. While we made 
ourself comfortable at the other end of 
the mattress, he opened his shirt to the 
warm summer sun, propped his bare feet 
against the shingles, looked down at the 
mansion's vast rolling meadow of a 
lawn, listened for a moment to the song 
of a chickadee in the branches of a tree 
nearby, and then turned, ready for our 
first question. 

PLAYBOY: How many times have you used 
LSD, Dr. Leary? 

LEARY: Up to this moment, I've had 311 
psychedelic sessions. 

PLAYBOY: What do you think it's done for 
you and to you? 

LEARY: That's difficult to answer easily. 
Let me say this: I was 39 when I had my 
first psychedelic experience. At that 
time, I was a middle-aged man involved 
in the middle-aged process of dying. My 
joy in life, my sensual openness, my crea- 
tivity were all sliding downhill. Since 
that time, six years ago, my life has been 
renewed in almost every dimension. 
Most of my colleagues at the University 
of California and at Harvard, of course, 
feel that I've become an eccentric and a 
kook. I would estimate that fewer than 
15 percent of my professional colleagues 
understand and support what I'm doing. 
The ones who do, as you might expect, 
tend to be among the younger psychol- 
ogists. If you know a person's age, you 
know what he's going to think and feel 
about LSD. Psychedelic drugs are the 
medium of the young. As you move up 
the age scale into the 30s, 40s and 50s 
fewer and fewer people are open to the 
possibilities that these chemicals offer. 
PLAYBOY: Why is that? 
LEARY: To the person over 35 or 40, the 
word "drug" means one of two things: 
doctor-disease or dope fiend-crime. 
Nothing you can say to a person who 
has this neurological fix on the word 
"drug" is going to change his mind. He's 
frozen like a Pavlovian dog to this con- 
ditioned reflex. To people under 25, on 
the other hand, the word "drug" refers to 



a wide range of mind benders running 
from alcohol, energizers and stupefiers to 
marijuana and the other psychedelic 
drugs. To middle-aged America, it may 
be synonymous with instant insanity, 
but to most Americans under 25, the 
psychedelic drug means ecstasy, sensual 
unfolding, religious experience, revela- 
tion, illumination, contact with nature. 
There's not a teenager or young person 
in the United States today who doesn't 
know at least one person who has had a 
good experience with marijuana or LSD. 
The horizons of the current younger 
generation, in terms of expanded con- 
sciousness, are light-years beyond those 
of their parents. The breakthrough has 
occurred; there's no going back. The 
psychedelic battle is won. 
PLAYBOY: Why, then, have you called for 
a one-year "cease-fire" on the use of LSD 
and marijuana? 

LEARY: Because there have never been 
two generations of human beings so far 
apart living essentially in two different 
worlds, speaking two different languages 
as the people under 25 and the older 
generation. Evolutionary misunderstand- 
ing causes bloodshed and imprisonment. 
To relieve this situation, I've asked the 
younger generation to cool it for a year 
and to use this moratorium period to ex- 
plain to their parents and to their jail- 
ers what LSD and marijuana are, and 
why we want and intend to use them. I 
have made clear that this is a voluntary 
waiving of the constitutional right to 
change your own consciousness. But I 
suggested this as a conciliatory gesture to 
mollify and educate the older generation 
and to allow time for the younger people 
to learn more about how to turn on. 
I'm demanding that this period also be a 
moratorium on hysterical legislation and 
on punitive arrests of young people for 
the possession of LSD and marijuana. If, 
at the end of one year, the older genera- 
tion has not taken advantage of this 
cease-fire, I predict and indeed urge a 
firm statement on the part of everyone 
involved that they intend to resume the 
use of psychedelics, to exercise their con- 
stitutional right to expand their own 
consciousness whatever the cost. 
PLAYBOY: What do you say to the stand- 
ard charge that LSD is too powerful and 
dangerous to entrust to the young? 
LEARY: Well, none of us yet knows exact- 
ly how LSD can be used for the growth 
and benefit of the human being. It is a 
powerful releaser of energy as yet not 
fully understood. But if I'm confronted 
with the possibility that a 15-year-old or 
a 50-year-old is going to use a new form 
of energy that he doesn't understand, I'll 
back the 15-yearold every time. Why? 
Because a 15-year-old is going to use a 
new form of energy to have fun, to 
intensify sensation, to make love, for 
curiosity, for personal growth. Many 50- 
year-olds have lost their curiosity,* have 
lost their ability to make love, have 



dulled their openness to new sensations, 
and would use any form of new energy 
for power, control and warfare. So it 
doesn't concern me at all that young 
people are taking time out from the 
educational and occupational assembly 
lines to experiment with consciousness, 
to dabble with new forms of experience 
and artistic expression. The present gen- 
eration under the age of 25 is the wisest 
and holiest generation that the human 
race has ever seen. And, by God, instead 
of lamenting, derogating and imprison- 
ing them, we should support them, listen 
to them and turn on with them. 
PLAYBOY: If we wanted to take you up on 
that last suggestion, how would we go 
about it? 

IEARY: Find a beloved friend who knows 
where to get LSD and how to run a ses- 
sion; or find a trusted and experienced 
LSD voyager to guide you on a trip. 
PLAYBOY: Is it necessary to have a guide? 
LEARY: Yes. Unless you have an experi- 
enced guide at least for your first 10 
or 15 sessions it would be extremely 
reckless. 

PLAYBOY: What if a person can't find ei- 
ther a guide or a source of LSD among 
his friends? Where does he go? 
LEARY: LSD is against the law, and I cer- 
tainly would not advise anyone to vio- 
late the law. I will say this, however: 
Throughout human history, men who 
have wanted to expand their conscious- 
ness, to find deeper meaning inside 
themselves, have been able to do it if 
they were willing to commit the time 
and energy to do so. In other times and 
countries, men would walk barefooted 
2000 miles to find spiritual teachers who 
would turn them on to Buddha, Mo- 
hammed or Ramakrishna. 
PLAYBOY: If you can't say where one could 
buy LSD, can you tell us the formula for 
making it? We understand it can be syn- 
thesized in any well-equipped chemical 
laboratory. 

LEARY: That's true. But it would be irre- 
sponsible of me to reveal it. The un- 
authorized manufacture of LSD is now 
against the law. 

PLAYBOY: Assuming you can get it, how 
do you take it? Can it be injected, or is 
it mostly just swallowed in a sugar cube? 
LEARY: It can be injected or it can come 
in the form of powder or pills or in a 
solution, which is odorless, tasteless 
and colorless. In any case, you're deal- 
ing with a very minute quantity. One 
hundred micrograms is a moderate dose. 
PLAYBOY: For a session lasting how long? 
LEARY: Eight to twelve hours. 
PLAYBOY: What's it like? What happens to 
you? 

LEARY: If we're speaking in a general 
way, what happens to everyone is the ex- 
perience of incredible acceleration and 
intensification of all senses and of all 
mental processes which can be very con- 
fusing if you're not prepared for it. 
Around a thousand million signals fire 



off in your brain every second; during 
any second in an LSD session, you find 
yourself tuned in on thousands of these 
messages that ordinarily you don't regis- 
ter consciously. And you may be getting 
an incredible number of simultaneous 
messages from different parts of your 
body. Since you're not used to this, it 
can lead to incredible ecstasy or it can 
lead to confusion. Some people are 
freaked by this niagara of sensory input. 
Instead of having just one or two or 
three things happening in tidy sequence, 
you're suddenly flooded by hundreds of 
lights and colors and sensations and 
images, and you can get quite lost. 

You sense a strange, powerful force 
beginning to unloose and radiate 
through your body. In normal percep- 
tion, we are aware of static symbols. But 
as the LSD effect takes hold, everything 
begins to move, and this relentless, im- 
personal, slowly swelling movement will 
continue through the several hours of 
the session. It's as though for all of your 
normal waking life you have been 
caught in a still photograph, in an awk- 
ward, stereotyped posture; suddenly the 
show comes alive, balloons out to several 
dimensions and becomes irradiated with 
color and energy. 

The first thing you notice is an incred- 
ible enhancement of sensory awareness. 
Take the sense of sight. LSD vision is 
to normal vision as normal vision is to 
the picture on a badly tuned television 
set. Under LSD, it's as though you 
have microscopes up to your eyes, in 
which you see jewellike, radiant details 
of anything your eye falls upon. You 
are really seeing for the first time not 
static, symbolic perception of learned 
things, but patterns of light bouncing 
off the objects around you and hurtling 
at the speed of light into the mosaic of 
rods and cones in the retina of your eye. 
Everything seems alive. Everything is 
alive, beaming diamond-bright light 
waves into your retina. 
PLAYBOY: Is the sense of hearing similarly 
intensified? 

LEARY: Tremendously. Ordinarily we hear 
just isolated sounds: the rings of a tele- 
phone, die sound of somebody's words. 
But when you turn on with LSD, the 
organ of Corti in your inner ear be- 
comes a trembling membrane seething 
with tattoos of sound waves. The vibra- 
tions seem to penetrate deep inside you, 
swell and burst there. You hear one note 
of a Bach sonata, and it hangs there, 
glittering, pulsating, for an endless 
length of time, while you slowly orbit 
around it. Then, hundreds of years later, 
comes the second note of the sonata, and 
again, for hundreds of years, you slowly 
drift around the two notes, observing 
the harmony and the discords, and 
reflecting on the history of music. 

But when your nervous system is 
turned on with LSD, and all the wires 
are flashing, the senses begin to overlap 



and merge. You not only hear but see 
the music emerging from the speaker sys- 
tem like dancing particles, like squirm- 
ing curls of toothpaste. You actually see 
the sound, in multicolored patterns, 
while you're hearing it. At the same 
time, you are the sound, you are the 
note, you are the string of the violin or 
the piano. And every one of your organs 
is pulsating and having orgasms in 
rhythm with it. 

PLAYBOY: What happens to the sense of 
taste? 

LEARY: Taste is intensified, too, although 
normally you won't feel like eating dur- 
ing an LSD session, any more than you 
feel like eating when you take your first 
solo at the controls of a supersonic jet. 
Although if you eat after a session, there 
is an appreciation of all the particular 
qualities of food its texture and resil- 
iency and viscosity such as we are 
not conscious of in a normal state of 
awareness. 

PLAYBOY: How about the sense of smell? 
LEARY: This is one of the most over- 
whelming aspects of an LSD experience. 
It seems as though for the first time you 
are breathing life, and you remember 
with amusement and distaste that plas- 
tic, odorless, artificial gas that you used 
to consider air. During the LSD experi- 
ence, you discover that you're actually 
inhaling an atmosphere composed of 
millions of microscopic strands of olfac- 
tory ticker tape, exploding in your nos- 
trils with ecstatic meaning. When you sit 
across the room from a woman during 
an LSD session, you're aware of thou- 
sands of penetrating chemical messages 
floating from her through the air into 
your sensory center: a symphony of a 
thousand odors that all of us exude at 
every moment the shampoo she uses, 
her cologne, her sweat, the exhaust and 
discharge from her digestive system, her 
sexual perfume, the fragrance of her 
clothing grenades of eroticism explod- 
ing in the olfactory cell. 
PLAYBOY: Does the sense of touch become 
equally erotic? 

LEARY: Touch becomes electric as well as 
erotic. I remember a moment during one 
session in which my wife leaned over 
and lightly touched the palm of my 
hand with her finger. Immediately a 
hundred thousand end cells in my hand 
exploded in soft orgasm. Ecstatic ener- 
gies pulsated up my arms and rocketed 
into my brain, where another hundred 
thousand cells softly exploded in pure, 
delicate pleasure. The distance between 
my wife's finger and the palm of my 
hand was about 50 miles of space, filled 
with cotton candy, infiltrated with thou- 
sands of silver wires hurtling energy 
back and forth. Wave after wave of ex- 
quisite energy pulsed from her finger. 
Wave upon wave of ethereal tissue rap- 
ture delicate, shuddering coursed back 
and forth from her finger to my palm. 
PLAYBOY: And this rapture was erotic? 



LEARY: Transcendentally. An enormous 
amount of energy from every fiber of 
your body is released under LSD most 
especially including sexual energy. 
There is no question that LSD is the 
most powerful aphrodisiac ever discov- 
ered by man. 

PIAYBOY: Would you elaborate? 
LEARY: I'm saying simply that sex under 
LSD becomes miraculously enhanced 
and intensified. I don't mean that it sim- 
ply generates genital energy. It doesn't 
automatically produce a longer erection. 
Rather, it increases your sensitivity a 
thousand percent. Let me put it this 
way: Compared with sex under LSD, the 
way you've been making love no matter 
how ecstatic the pleasure you think you 
get from it is like making love to a 
department-store-window dummy. In sen- 
sory and cellular communion on LSD, 
you may spend a half hour making love 
with eyeballs, another half hour making 
love with breath. As you spin through a 
thousand sensory and cellular organic 
changes, she does, too. Ordinarily, sex- 
ual communication involves one's own 
chemicals, pressure and interactions of a 
very localized nature in what the psy- 
chologists call the erogenous zones. A 
vulgar, dirty concept, I think. When 
you're making love under LSD, it's as 
though every cell in your body and you 
have trillions is making love with every 
cell in her body. Your hand doesn't ca- 
ress her skin but sinks down into and 
merges with ancient dynamos of ecstasy 
within her. 

PLAYBOY: How often have you made love 
under the influence of LSD? 
LEARY: Every time I've taken it. In fact, 
that is what the LSD experience is all 
about. Merging, yielding, flowing, un- 
ion, communion. It's all lovemaking. 
You make love with candlelight, with 
sound waves from a record player, with 
a bowl of fruit on the table, with the 
trees. You're in pulsating harmony with 
all the energy around you. 
PLAYBOY: Including that of a woman? 
LEARY: The three inevitable goals of the 
LSD session are to discover and make 
love with God, to discover and make 
love with yourself, and to discover and 
make love with a woman. You can't 
make it with yourself unless you've made 
it with the timeless energy process 
around you, and you can't make it with 
a woman until you've made it with your- 
self. The natural and obvious way to 
take LSD is with a member of the oppo- 
site sex, and an LSD session that does 
not involve an ultimate merging with a 
person of the opposite sex isn't really 
complete. One of the great purposes of an 
LSD session is sexual union. The more 
expanded your consciousness the farther 
out you can move beyond your mind 
the deeper, the richer, the longer and 
more meaningful your sexual communion. 



PLAYBOY: We've heard about sessions in 
which couples make love for hours on 
end, to the point of exhaustion, but never 
seem to reach exhaustion. Is this true? 
LEARY: Inevitably. 

PLAYBOY: Can you describe the sensation 
of an orgasm under LSD? 
LEARY: Only the most reckless poet 
would attempt that. I have to say to you, 
"What does one say to a little child?" 
The child says, "Daddy, what is sex 
like?" and you try to describe it, and 
then the little child says, "Well, is it fun 
like the circus?" and you say, "Well, not 
exactly like that." And the child says, "Is 
it fun like chocolate ice cream?" and you 
say, "Well, it's like that but much, much 
more than that." And the child says, "Is 
it fun like the roller coaster, then?" and 
you say, "Well, that's part of it, but it's 
even more than that." In short, I can't 
tell you what it's like, because it's not 
like anything that's ever happened to 
you and there aren't words adequate to 
describe it, anyway. You won't know 
what it's like until you try it yourself 
and then I won't need to tell you. 
PLAYBOY: We've heard that some women 
who ordinarily have difficulty achieving 
orgasm find themselves capable of multi- 
ple orgasms under LSD. Is that true? 
LEARY: In a carefully prepared, loving 
LSD session, a woman will inevitably 
have several hundred orgasms. 
PLAYBOY: Several hundred} 
LEARY: Yes. Several hundred. 
PLAYBOY: What about a man? 
LEARY: This preoccupation with the num- 
ber of orgasms is a hang-up for many men 
and women. It's as crude and vulgar a 
concept as wondering how much she paid 
for the negligee. 

PLAYBOY: Still, there must be some sort of 
physiological comparison. If a woman 
can have several hundred orgasms, how 
many can a man have under optimum 
conditions? 

LEARY: It would depend entirely on the 
amount of sexual and psychedelic ex- 
perience the man has had. I can speak 
only for myself and about my own expe- 
rience. I can only compare what I was 
with what I am now. In the last six 
years, my openness to, my responsiveness 
to, my participation in every form of 
sensory expression has multiplied a 
thousandfold. 

PLAYBOY: This aspect of LSD has been 
hinted at privately but never spelled out 
in public until now. Why? 
LEARY: The sexual impact is, of course, 
the open but private secret about LSD, 
which none of us has talked about in the 
last few years. It's socially dangerous 
enough to say that LSD helps you find 
divinity and helps you discover yourself. 
You're already in trouble when you say 
that. But then if you announce that the 
psychedelic experience is basically a sex- 
ual experience, you're asking to bring 
the whole middle-aged, middle-class 
monolith down on your head. At the 



present time, however, I'm under a 30- 
year sentence of imprisonment, which 
for a 45-year-old man is essentially a life 
term; and in addition, I am under in- 
dictment on a second marijuana offense 
involving a 16-year sentence. Since there 
is hardly anything more that -middle- 
aged, middle-class authority can do to 
me and since the secret is out anyway 
among the young I feel I'm free at 
this moment to say what we've never 
said before: that sexual ecstasy is the 
basic reason for the current LSD boom. 
When Dr. Goddard, the head of the 
Food and Drug Administration, an- 
nounced in a Senate hearing that ten 
percent of our college students are 
taking LSD, did you ever wonder why? 
Sure, they're discovering God and 
meaning; sure, they're discovering them- 
selves; but did you really think that sex 
wasn't the fundamental reason for this 
surging, youthful social boom? You can 
no more do research on LSD and leave 
out sexual ecstasy than you can do mi- 
croscopic research on tissue and leave 
out cells. 

LSD is not an automatic trigger to 
sexual awakening, however. The first ten 
times you take it, you might not be able 
to have a sexual experience at all, be- 
cause you're so overwhelmed and de- 
lighted or frightened and confused 
by the novelty; the idea of having sex 
might be irrelevant or incomprehen- 
sible at the moment. But it depends 
upon the setting and the partner. It is 
almost inevitable, if a man and his mate 
take LSD together, that their sexual en- 
ergies will be unimaginably intensified, 
and unless clumsiness or fright on the 
part of one or the other blocks it, it will 
lead to a deeper experience than they 
ever thought possible. 

From the beginning of our research, I 
have been aware of this tremendous per- 
sonal power in LSD. You must be very 
careful to take it only with someone you 
know really well, because it's almost in- 
evitable that a woman will fall in love 
with the man who shares her LSD expe- 
rience. Deep and lasting neurological 
imprints, profound emotional bonds, 
can develop as a result of an LSD session 
bonds that can last a lifetime. For this 
reason, I have always been extremely 
cautious about running sessions with 
men and women. We always try to have 
a subject's husband or wife present dur- 
ing his or her first session, so that as 
these powerful urges develop, they are 
directed in ways that can be lived out 
responsibly after the session. 
PLAYBOY: Are you preaching psychedelic 
monogamy? 

LEARY: Well, I can't generalize, but one 
of the great lessons I've learned from 
LSD is that every man contains the es- 
sence of all men and every woman has 
within her all women. I remember a ses- 
sion a few years ago in which, with hor- 
ror and ecstasy, I opened my eyes and 



looked into the eyes of my wife and was 
pulled into the deep blue pools of her 
being floating softly in the center of 
her mind, experiencing everything that 
she was experiencing, knowing every 
thought that she had ever had. As my 
eyes were riveted to hers, her face began 
to melt and change. I saw her as a young 
girl, as a baby, as an old woman with 
gray hair and seamy, wrinkled face. I 
saw her as a witch, a Madonna, a nag- 
ging crone, a radiant queen, a Byzantine 
virgin, a tired, worldly-wise Oriental 
whore who had seen every sight of life 
repeated a thousand times. She was all 
women, all woman, the essence of female 
eyes smiling, quizzically, resignedly, 
devilishly, always inviting: "See me, hear 
me, join me, merge with me, keep the 
dance going." Now, the. implications of 
this experience for sex and mating, I 
think, are obvious. It's because of this, 
not because of moral restrictions or re- 
straints, that I've been extremely monog- 
amous in my use of LSD over the last 
six years. 

PLAYBOY: When you speak of monogamy, 
do you mean complete sexual fidelity to 
one woman? 

IEARY: Well, the notion of running 
around trying to find different mates is a 
very low-level concept. We are living in 
a world of expanding population in 
which there are more and more beauti- 
ful young girls coming off the assembly 
line each month. It's obvious that the 
sexual criteria of the past are going to 
be changed, and that what's demanded 
of creatures with our sensory and cellu- 
lar repertoire is not just one affair after 
another with one young body after an- 
other, but the exploration of the incredi- 
ble depths and varieties of your own 
identity with a single member of the op- 
posite sex. This involves time and com- 
mitment to the voyage. 
PLAYBOY: Do you mean to imply that 
you've had only one bed partner in the 
last six years? 

LEAHY: I've had more than one long-term 
relationship during this period. But 
there is a certain kind of neurological 
and cellular fidelity that develops. I have 
said for many years now that in the fu- 
ture the grounds for divorce would not 
be that your wife went to bed with an- 
other man and bounced around on a 
mattress for an hour or two, but that 
your wife had an LSD session with some- 
body else, because the bonds and the con- 
nections that develop are so powerful. 
PLAYBOY: It's been reported that when 
you are in the company of women, quite 
a lot of them turn on to you. As a matter 
of fact, a friend of yours told us that 
you could have two or three different 
women every night if you wanted to. 
Is he right? 

IEARY: For the most part, during the last 
six years, I have lived very quietly in our 
research centers. But on lecture tours and 
in highly enthusiastic social gatherings, 



there is no question that a charismatic 
public figure does generate attraction 
and stimulate a sexual response. 
PLAYBOY: How often do you return diis 
response? 

LEARY: Every woman has built into her 
cells and tissues the longing for a hero- 
sage-mythic male to open up and share 
her own divinity. But casual sexual en- 
counters do not satisfy this deep longing. 
Any charismatic person who is conscious 
of his own mythic potency awakens this 
basic hunger in women and pays rever- 
ence to it at the level that is harmonious 
and appropriate at the time. Compul- 
sive body grabbing, however, is rarely 
the vehicle of such communication. 
PLAYBOY: Do you disapprove of the idea 
of casual romance catalyzed by LSD? 
LEARY: Well, I'm no one to tell anyone 
else what to do. But I would say, if you 
use LSD to make out sexually in the 
seductive sense, then you'll be a very 
humiliated and embarrassed person, be- 
cause it's just not going to work. On 
LSD, her eyes would be microscopic, and 
she'd see very plainly what you were up 
to, coming on with some heavy-handed, 
mustache-twisting routine. You'd look 
like a consummate ass, and she'd laugh 
at you, or you'd look like a monster and 
she'd scream and go into a paranoid 
state. Nothing good can happen with 
LSD if it's used crudely or for power or 
manipulative purposes. 
PLAYBOY: Suppose you met a girl at a par- 
ty, developed an immediate rapport, and 
you both decided to share an LSD trip 
that same night. Could it work under 
those circumstances? 
LEARY: You must remember that in tak- 
ing LSD with someone else, you are 
voluntarily relinquishing all of your per- 
sonality defenses and opening yourself 
up in a very vulnerable manner. If you 
and the girl are ready to do this, there 
would be an immediate and deep rap- 
port if you took a trip together. People 
from the LSD cult would be able to do 
it upon a brief meeting, but an inexperi- 
enced person would probably find it ex- 
tremely confusing, and the people might 
become quite isolated from each other. 
They might be whirled into the rapture 
or confusion of their own inner work- 
ings and forget entirely that the other 
person is there. 

PLAYBOY: According to some reports, LSD 
can trigger the acting out of latent ho- 
mosexual impulses in ostensibly hetero- 
sexual men and women. Is there any 
truth to that, in your opinion? 
LEARY: On the contrary, the fact is that 
LSD is a specific cure for homosexuality. 
It's well known that most sexual perver- 
sions are the result not of biological 
binds but of freaky, dislocating child- 
hood experiences of one kind or anoth- 
er. Consequently, it's not surprising that 
we've had many cases of long-term homo- 
sexuals who, under LSD, discover that 
they are not only genitally but genet- 



ically male, that they are basically at- 
tracted to females. The most famous 
and public of such cases is that of Allen 
Ginsberg, who has openly stated that 
the first time he turned on to women 
was during an LSD session several years 
ago. Bui this is only one of many 
such cases. 

PLAYBOY: Has this happened with Les- 
bians? 

LEARY: I was just going to cite such a 
case. An extremely attractive girl came 
down to our training center in Mexico. 
She was a Lesbian and she was very active 
sexually, but all of her energy was devot- 
ed to making it with girls. She was at an 
LSD session at one of our cottages and 
went down to the beach and saw this 
young man in a bathing suit and- flash! 
for the first time in her life the cellu- 
lar electricity was flowing in her body 
and it bridged the gap. Her subsequent 
sexual choices were almost exclusively 
members of the opposite sex. 

For the same reasons, LSD is also a 
powerful panacea for impotence and fri- 
gidity, both of which, like homosexual- 
ity, are symbolic screw-ups. The LSD 
experience puts you in touch with the 
wisdom of your body, of your nervous 
system, of your cells, of your organs. 
And the closer you get to the message 
of the body, the more obvious it be- 
comes that it's constructed and designed 
to procreate and keep the life stream go- 
ing. When you're confronted witli this 
basic cellular fact under LSD, you real- 
ize that your impotency, or your fri- 
gidity, is caused by neuropsychological 
hang-ups of fear or shame that make 
no sense to your cells, that have nothing 
to do with the biochemical forces inside 
your body urging you to merge and mate 
with a member of the opposite sex. 
PLAYBOY: Does LSD always work as a sex- 
ual cure-all? 

LEARY: Certainly not. LSD is no guaran- 
tee of any specific social or sexual out- 
come. One man may take LSD and leave 
wife and family and go off to be a monk 
on the banks of the Ganges. Another 
may take LSD and go back to his wife. 
It's a highly individual situation. Highly 
unpredictable. During LSD sessions, you 
see, there can come a microscopic per- 
ception of your routine social and 
professional life. You may discover to 
your horror that you're living a robot 
existence, that your relationships with 
your boss, your wife and your family are 
stereotyped, empty and devoid of mean- 
ing. At this point, there might come a 
desire to renounce this hollow existence, 
to collect your thoughts, to go away and 
cloister yourself from the world like a 
monk while you figure out what kind of 
a life you want to go back to, if any. 

Conversely, we've found that in giving 
LSD to members of monastic sects, there 
has been a definite tendency for them to 
leave the monastic life and to find a mat- 
ing relationship. Several were men in 



their late 40s who had been monks for 
15 or 20 years, but who even at this ma- 
ture age returned to society, married 
and made the heterosexual adjustment. 
It's not coincidental that of all those I've 
given LSD to, the religious group more 
than 200 ministers, priests, divinity stu- 
dents and nuns has experienced the 
most intense sexual reaction. And in two 
religious groups that prize chastity and 
celibacy, there have been wholesale de- 
fections of monks and nuns who left 
their religious orders to get married after 
a series of LSD experiences. The LSD 
session, you see, is an overwhelming 
awakening of experience; it releases po- 
tent, primal energies, and one of these is 
the sexual impulse, which is the strong- 
est impulse at any level of organic life. 
For the first time in their lives, perhaps, 
these people were meeting head on the 
powerful life forces that they had 
walled off with ritualized defenses and 
self-delusions. 

PLAYBOY: A great deal of what is said 
about LSD by its proponents, including 
you, has been couched in terms of reli- 
gious mysticism. You spoke earlier, in 
fact, of discovering "divinity" through 
LSD. In what way is the LSD experience 
religious? 

IEARY: It depends on what you mean by 
religion. For almost everyone, the LSD 
experience is a confrontation with new 
forms of wisdom and energy that dwarf 
and humiliate man's mind. This experi- 
ence of awe and revelation is often de- 
scribed as religious. I consider my work 
basically religious, because it has as its 
goal the systematic expansion of con- 
sciousness and the discovery of energies 
within, which men call "divine." From 
the psychedelic point of view, almost all 
religions are attempts sometimes limit- 
ed temporally or nationally to discover 
the inner potential. Well, LSD is West- 
ern yoga. The aim of all Eastern reli- 
gion, like the aim of LSD, is basically to 
get high: that is, to expand your con- 
sciousness and find ecstasy and revela- 
tion within. 

PLAYBOY: Dr. Gerald Klee.of the National 
Institute of Mental Health, has written: 
"Those who say LSD expands conscious- 
ness would have the task of defining the 
terms. By any conventional definition, I 
don't think it does expand the conscious- 
ness." What do vou think? 
LEARY: Well, he's using the narrow, con- 
ventional definition of consciousness 
that psychiatrists have been taught: that 
there are two levels of consciousness 
sleep and symbolic normal awareness. 
Anything else is insanity. So by conven- 
tional definition, LSD does not expand 
symbolic consciousness; thus, it creates 
psychosis. In terms of his conventional 
symbol game, Dr. Klee is right. My con- 
tention is that his definition is too nar- 
row, that it comes from a deplorable, 
primitive and superstitious system of 
consciousness. My system of conscious- 



ness attested to by the experience of 
hundreds of thousands of trained voyag- 
ers who've taken LSD defines many dif- 
ferent levels of awareness. 
PLAYBOY: What are they? 
LEARY: The lowest level of consciousness 
is sleep or stupor, which is produced 
by narcotics, barbiturates and our na- 
tional stuporfactant, alcohol. The second 
level of consciousness is the conventional 
wakeful state, in which awareness is 
hooked to conditioned symhols: flags, 
dollar signs, job titles, brand names, 
party affiliations and the like. This is 
the level that most people including 
psychiatrists regard as reality; they 
don't know the half of it. There is a 
third level of awareness, and this is 
the one that I think would be of 
particular interest to playboy readers, 
because most of them are of the younger 
generation, which is much more sensual 
than the puritanical Americans of the 
older generation. This is the sensory 
level of awareness. In order to reach it, 
you have to have something that will 
turn off symbols and open up your bil- 
lions of sensory cameras to the billions of 
impulses that are hitting them. The 
chemical that opens the door to this level 
has been well known for centuries to cul- 
tures that stress delicate, sensitive regis- 
tration of sensory stimulation: the Arab 
cultures, the Indian cultures, the Mogul 
cultures. It is marijuana. There is no 
question that marijuana is a sensual stim- 
ulator and this explains not only why 
it's favored by young people but why it 
arouses fear and panic among the mid- 
dle-aged, middle-class, whiskey-drinking, 
bluenosed bureaucrats who run the nar- 
cotics agencies. If they only knew what 
they were missing. 

But we must bid a sad farewell to the 
sensory level of consciousness and go on 
to the fourth level, which I call the cel- 
lular level. It's well known that the 
stronger psychedelics such as mescaline 
and LSD take you beyond the senses 
into a world of cellular awareness. Now, 
the neurological fact of the matter is 
that every one of your 13 billion brain 
cells is hooked up to some 25,000 other 
cells, and everything you know comes 
from a communication exchange at the 
nerve endings of your cells. During an 
LSD session, enormous clusters of these 
cells are turned on, and consciousness 
whirls into eerie panoramas for which 
we have no words or concepts. Here 
the metaphor that's most accurate is 
the metaphor of the microscope, which 
brings into awareness cellular patterns 
that are invisible to the naked eye. 
In the same way, LSD brings into aware- 
ness the cellular conversations that are 
inaudible to the normal consciousness 
and for which we have no adequate sym- 
bolic language. You become aware of 
processes you were never tuned in to be- 
fore. You feel yourself sinking down into 
the soft tissue swamp of your own body, 



slowly drifting down dark red waterways 
and floating through capillary canals, 
softly propelled through endless cellular 
factories, ancient fibrous clockworks 
ticking, clicking, chugging, pumping re- 
lentlessly. Being swallowed up this way 
by the tissue industries and the bloody, 
sinewy carryings-on inside your body can 
be an appalling experience the first time 
it happens to you. But it can also be 
an awesome one fearful, but full of 
reverence and wonder. 
PLAYBOY: Is there a fifth level of aware- 
ness? 

LEARY: Yes, and this one is even more 
strange and terrifying. This is the prece\- 
lular level, which is experienced only 
under a heavy dosage of LSD. Your nerve 
cells are aware as Professor Einstein 
wis aware that all matter, all structure, 
is pulsating energy; well, there is a shat- 
tering moment in the deep psychedelic 
session when your body, and the world 
around you, dissolves into shimmering 
latticeworks of pulsating white waves, 
into silent, subcellular worlds of shut- 
tling energy. But this phenomenon is 
nothing new. It's been reported by mys- 
tics and visionaries throughout the last 
4000 years of recorded history as "the 
white light" or the "dance of energy." 
Suddenly you realize that everything you 
thought of as reality or even as life itself 
including your body is just a dance 
of particles. You find yourself horribly 
alone in a dead, impersonal world of raw 
energy feeding on your sense organs. 
This, of course, is one of the oldest Ori- 
ental philosophic notions, that nothing 
exists except in the chemistry of your 
own consciousness. But when it first 
really happens to you, through the ex- 
perience of LSD, it can come as a 
terrorizing, isolating discovery. At this 
point, the unprepared LSD subject 
often screams out: "I'm dead!" And he 
sits there transfigured with fear, afraid 
to move. For the experienced voyager, 
however, this revelation can be exalting: 
You've climbed inside Einstein's formula, 
penetrated to the ultimate nature of mat- 
ter, and you're pulsing in harmony with 
its primal, cosmic beat. 
PLAYBOY: Has this happened to you often 
during a session? 

LEARY: It's happened to me about half of 
the 311 times I've taken LSD. And every 
time it begins to happen, no matter how 
much experience you've had, there is 
that moment of terror because nobody 
likes to see the comfortable world of 
objects and symbols and even cells dis- 
integrate into the ultimate physical 
design. 

PLAYBOY: Do you think there may be a 
deeper level of consciousness beyond the 
precellular? 

LEARY: I hope so. We know that there 
are many other levels of energy within 
and around us, and I hope that within 
our lifetimes we will have these opened 
up to us, because the fact is that there 



is no form of energy on this planet that 
isn't recorded somewhere in your body. 
Built within every cell are molecular 
strands of memory and awareness called 
the DNA code the genetic blueprint 
that has designed and executed the con- 
struction of your body. This is an an- 
cient strand of molecules that possesses 
memories of every previous organism 
that has contributed to your present 
existence. In your DNA code, you have 
the genetic history of your father and 
mother. It goes back, back, back through 
the generations, through the eons. Your 
body carries a protein record of every- 
thing that's happened to you since the 
moment you were conceived as a one-cell 
organism. It's a living history of every 
form of energy transformation on this 
planet back to that thunderbolt in the 
Pre-Cambrian mud that spawned the life 
process over two billion years ago. When 
LSD subjects report retrogression and 
reincarnation visions, this is not mysteri- 
ous or supernatural. It's simply modern 
biogenetics. 

PLAYBOY: Tell us more about these visions. 
LEARY: Well, we don't know how these 
memories are stored, but countless 
events from early and even intra-uterine 
life are registered in your brain and can 
be flashed into consciousness during an 
LSD experience. 

PLAYBOY: Do you merely remember them, 
or do you actually relive them? 
LEARY: The experiences that come from 
LSD are actually relived in sight, 
sound, smell, taste and touch exactly 
the way they happened before. 
PLAYBOY: If it's an experience from very 
early life, how can you be sure it's a true 
memory rather than a vivid hallucination? 
LEARY: It's possible to check out some of 
these ancient memories, but for the most 
part these memory banks, which are 
built into your protein cellular strands, 
can never be checked on by external ob- 
servation. Who can possibly corroborate 
what your nervous system picked up be- 
fore your birth, inside your mother? But 
the obvious fact is that your nervous sys- 
tem was operating while you were still 
in the uterus. It was receiving and re- 
cording units of consciousness. Why, 
then, is it surprising that at some later 
date, if you have the chemical key, you 
can release these memories of the nine 
perilous and exciting months before you 
were born? 

PLAYBOY: Can these memory visions be 
made selective? Is it possible to travel 
back in time at will? 
LEARY: Yes, it is. That happens to be the 
particular project that I've been working 
on most recently with LSD. I've charted 
my own family tree and traced it back 
as far as I can. I've tried to plumb the 
gene pools from which my ancestors 
emerged in Ireland and France. 
PLAYBOY: With what success? 
LEARY: Well, there are certain moments 
in my evolutionary history that I can 



reach all the time, but there are certain 
untidy corners in my racial path that I 
often get boxed into, and because they 
are frightening, I freak out and open my 
eyes and stop it. In many of these ses- 
sions, back about 300 years, I often run 
across a particular French-appearing 
man with a black mustache, a rather 
dangerous-looking guy. And there are 
several highly eccentric recurrent se- 
quences in an Anglo-Saxon country that 
have notably embarrassed me when I re- 
lived them in LSD sessions goings on 
that shocked my 20th Century person. 
PLAYBOY: What sort of goings on? 
LEARY: Moments of propagation scenes 
of rough ancestral sexuality in Irish bar- 
rooms, in haystacks, in canopied beds, in 
covered wagons, on beaches, on the moist 
jungle floor and moments of crisis in 
which my forebears escape from fang, 
from spear, from conspiracy, from tidal 
wave and avalanche. I've concluded that 
the imprints most deeply engraved in 
the neurological memory bank have to 
do with these moments of life-affirming 
exultation and exhilaration in the per- 
petuation and survival of the species. 
PLAYBOY: But how can you be sure they 
ever happened? 

LEARY: You can't. They may all be noth- 
ing more than luridly melodramatic 
Saturday serials conjured up by my fore- 
brain. But whatever they are memory or 
imagination it's the most exciting ad- 
venture I've ever been involved in. 
PLAYBOY: In this connection, according to 
a spokesman for the student left, many 
former campus activists who've gone 
the LSD route are "more concerned 
with what's happening in their heads 
than what's happening in the world." 
Any comment? 

LEARY: There's a certain amount of truth 
in that. The insight of LSD leads you to 
concern yourself more with internal or 
spiritual values; you realize that it 
doesn't make any difference what you do 
on the outside unless you change the in- 
side. If all the Negroes and left-wing col- 
lege students in the world had Cadillacs 
and full control of society, they would 
still be involved in an anthill social sys- 
tem unless they opened themselves up 
first. 

PLAYBOY: Aren't these young ex-activists 
among an increasing number of stu- 
dents, writers, artists and musicians 
whom one critic has called "the psyche- 
delic dropouts" LSD users who find 
themselves divested of motivation, un- 
able to readjust to reality or to resume 
their roles in society? 
LEARY: There is an LSD dropout prob- 
lem, but it's nothing to worry about. It's 
something to cheer. The lesson I have 
learned from over 300 LSD sessions, and 
which I have been passing on to others, 
can be stated in six syllables: Turn on, 
tune in, drop out. "Turn on" means to 
contact the ancient energies and wis- 
doms that are built into your nervous 



system. They provide unspeakable pleas- 
ure and revelation. "Tune in" means to 
harness and communicate these new per- 
spectives in a harmonious dance with 
the external world. "Drop out" means to 
detach yourself from the tribal game. 
Current models of social adjustment 
mechanized, computerized, socialized, 
intellectualized, televised, Sanforized 
make no sense to the new LSD genera- 
tion, who see clearly that American 
society is becoming an air-conditioned 
anthill. In every generation of human his- 
tory, thoughtful men have turned on 
and dropped out of the tribal game, and 
thus stimulated the larger society to 
lurch ahead. Every historical advance 
has resulted from the stern pressure of 
visionary men who have declared their 
independence from the game: "Sorry, 
George III, we don't buy your model. 
We're going to try something new"; 
"Sorry, Louis XVI, we've got a new idea. 
Deal us out"; "Sorry, L. B. J., it's time to 
mosey on beyond the Great Society." 

The reflex reaction of society to the 
creative dropout is panic and irritation. 
If anyone questions the social order, he 
threatens the whole shaky edifice. The 
automatic, angry reaction to the creative 
dropout is that he will become a parasite 
on the hard-working, conforming citizen. 
This is not true. The LSD experience 
does not lead to passivity and withdraw- 
al; it spurs a driving hunger to commu- 
nicate in new forms, in better ways, to 
express a more harmonious message, to 
live a better life. The LSD cult has al- 
ready wrought revolutionary changes in 
American culture. If you were to con- 
duct a poll of the creative young musi- 
cians in this country, you'd find that at 
least 80 percent are using psychedelic 
drugs in a systematic way. And this new 
psychedelic style has produced not only 
a new rhythm in modern music but a 
new decor for our discotheques, a new 
form of film making, a new kinetic 
visual art, a new literature, and has 
begun to revise our philosophic and 
psychological thinking. 

Remember, it's the college kids who 
are turning on the smartest and most 
promising of the youngsters. What an 
exciting prospect: a generation of crea- 
tive youngsters refusing to march in 
step, refusing to go to offices, refusing to 
sign up on the installment plan, refusing 
to climb aboard the treadmill. 
PLAYBOY: What will they do? 
LEARY: Don't worry. Each one will work 
out his individual solution. Some will 
return to the establishment and inject 
their new ideas. Some will live under- 
ground as self-employed artists, artisans 
and writers. Some are already forming 
small communities out of the country. 
Many are starting schools for children 
and adults who wish to learn the use of 
their sense organs. Psychedelic businesses 
are springing up: bookstores, art galler- 
ies. Psychedelic industries may involve 



more manpower in the future than the 
automobile industry has produced in the 
last 20 years. In our technological society 
of the future, the problem will be not to 
get people to work, but to develop grace- 
ful, fulfilling ways of living a more 
serene, beautiful and creative life. Psy- 
chedelics will help to point the way. 
PLAYBOY: Concerning LSD's influence on 
creativity, Dr. B. William Murphy, a 
psychoanalyst for the National Institute 
of Mental Health, takes the view that 
there is no evidence "that drugs of any 
kind increase creative potency. One un- 
fortunate effect is to produce an illusion 
dangerous to people who are creative, 
who cease then to be motivated to pro- 
duce something that is genuinely new. 
And the illusion is bad in making those 
who are not creative get the idea that 
they are." What's your reaction? 
LEARY: It's unfortunate that most of the 
scientific studies on creativity have been 
done by psychologists who don't have 
one creative bone in their body. They 
have studied people who by definition 
are emphatically uncreative namely, 
graduate students. Is it any wonder that 
all the "scientific" studies of LSD and 
creativity have shown no creative re- 
sults? But to answer your question, I 
must admit that LSD and marijuana do 
not allow you to walk to the piano and 
ripple off great fugues. Psychedelic 
drugs, particularly marijuana, merely en- 
hance the senses. They allow you to see 
and hear new patterns of energy that 
suggest new patterns for composition. In 
this way, they enhance the creative per- 
spective, but the ability to convert your 
new perspective, however glorious it 
may be, into a communication form still 
requires the technical skill of a musician 
or a painter or a composer. 

But if you want to find out whether 
LSD and marijuana have helped creative 
people, don't listen to a psychiatrist; 
don't listen to a Government bureau- 
crat. Find the artist and ask him. If you 
want to find out about creativity, ask the 
creative person. If you want to know 
what LSD does, and whether it's good or 
bad, don't listen to a cop; don't listen to 
messianic fanatics like Timothy Leary. 
Find some friend who has taken LSD 
and ask him. He's the person to believe 
because you'll know how likely he is to 
distort things and then you'll be able to 
judge on the basis of his statements what 
LSD has done for him. Then ask other 
friends about their experiences. Base 
your opinion about LSD on a series of 
such interviews, and you will have col- 
lected more hard data than any of the 
public health officials and police officers 
who are making daily scare statements to 
the press these days. 
PLAYBOY: Are any of these scare state- 
ments true? According to a recent report 
on narcotics addiction published by the 
Medical Society of the County of New 
York, for example, "those with unsta- 



ble personalities may experience LSD- 
induced psychoses." Is that true? 
LEARY: In over 3000 people that I have 
personally observed taking LSD, we've 
had only four cases of prolonged psy- 
chosesa matter of, say, two or three 
weeks after the session. All of these had 
been in a mental hospital before, and 
they were people who could not commit 
themselves to any stable relationship. 
And all of these people had nothing 
going in their lives. They were drifting 
or floating, with no home or family or 
any roots, no stable, ongoing life situa- 
tion to return to. It's dangerous to take 
a trip if you have no internal trust and 
no external place to turn to afterward. 
PLAYBOY: The same New York Medical 
Society report also stated that "normal, 
well-adjusted persons can undergo an 
acute psychotic break under the influence 
of LSD." Is there any truth to that? 
LEARY: Everyone, normal or neurotic, 
experiences some fear and confusion 
during the high-dose LSD session. The 
outcome and duration of this confusion 
depends upon your environment and your 
traveling companions. That's why it's 
tremendously important that the LSD 
session be conducted in a protected 
place, that the person be prepared and 
that he have an experienced and under- 
standing guide to support and shield 
him from intrusion and interruption. 
When unprepared people take LSD in 
bad surroundings, and when there's no 
one present who has the skill and cour- 
age to guide them through it, then para- 
noid episodes are possible. 
PLAYBOY: Will you describe them? 
LEARY: There are any number of forms a 
paranoid episode can take. You can find 
yourself feeling that you've lived most of 
your life in a universe completely of 
your own, not really touching and har- 
monizing with the flow of the people 
and the energies around you. It seems to 
you that everyone else, and every other 
organism in creation, is in beatific com- 
munion, and only you are isolated by 
your egocentricity. Every action around 
you fits perfectly into this paranoid 
mosaic. Every glance, every look of bore- 
dom, every sound, every smile becomes a 
confirmation of the fact that everyone 
knows that you are the only one in the 
universe that's not swinging lovingly 
and gracefully with the rest of the cos- 
mic dance. I've experienced this myself. 

I've also sat with hundreds of people 
who have been panicked because they 
were trapped at the level of cellular 
reincarnation, where they looked out 
and saw that their body had scales like a 
fish or felt that they had turned into an 
animal. And I've sat with people who 
were caught on the fifth level, in that 
eerie, inhuman world of shuttling vibra- 
tions. But all these episodes can be dealt 
with easily by an experienced guide who 
recognizes where the LSD tripper is 
caught. He can bring you back down 



quite simply by holding a candle in 
front of you, or getting you to concen- 
trate on your breathing, or having you 
lie down and getting you to feel your 
body merging with the mattress or the 
floor. If he understands the map of con- 
sciousness, it's very easy to bring you 
back to a more recognizable and less 
frightening level. With his help, you'll 
be able to exult in and learn from the 
experience. 

If he's frightened or uncomprehend- 
ing, however, or if he acts so as to pro- 
tect his own social interests, your own 
terror and confusion are naturally in- 
creased. If he treats you as a psychotic 
.rather than as one who is seriously grop- 
ing with basic problems that you should 
be encouraged to face and work 
through, you may be forced into a psy- 
chotic state. Every case of prolonged 
LSD psychosis is the fault not of the 
drug nor of the drug taker but of the 
people around him who lose their cool 
and call the cops or the doctors. The les- 
son here is to fear neither LSD nor your 
own psychological nature which is basi- 
cally OK but to fear the diagnosing 
mind of the psychiatrist. Ninety percent 
of the bad LSD trips are provoked by 
psychiatric propaganda, which creates an 
atmosphere of fear rather than of cour- 
age and trust. If the psychiatrists had 
their way, we'd all be patients. 
PLAYBOY: Speaking of patients, a recent 
Time essay reported that a survey in Los 
Angeles "showed as many as 200 victims 
of bad trips in the city's hospitals at one 
time." Does that sound to you like a 
realistic figure? 

LEARY: I'd like to know who conducted 
that survey and where they got their 
figures, because it's contradicted by the 
known facts. I was recently told by the 
director of a large California hospital, 
which handles LSD cases, that most LSD 
panic subjects are given a tranquilizer 
and sent home without even being ad- 
mitted. The same is true at Bellevue and 
throughout the country. 
PLAYBOY: In the same essay, Time wrote: 
"Under the influence of LSD, nonswim- 
mers think they can swim, and others 
think they can fly. One young man tried 
to stop a car on Los Angeles' Wilshire 
Boulevard and was hit and killed. A 
magazine salesman became convinced 
that he was the Messiah." Are these 
cases, and others like them, representa- 
tive reactions to LSD, in your opinion? 
LEARY: I would say that one case in 
10,000 is going to flip out and run out 
into the street and do something bizarre. 
But these are the cases that get reported 
in the papers. There are 3000 Americans 
who die every year from barbiturates 
and it never hits the papers. Thousands 
more die in car crashes and from lung 
cancer induced by smoking. That isn't 
news, either. But one LSD kid rushes 
out and takes off his clothes in the street 
and it's headlines in the New York Daily 



News. If one nut who's a member of the 
narcotics squad from the Los Angeles 
police force gets drunk and climbs into 
an airplane and threatens the pilot, 
that's no reason for grounding all air- 
planes, calling alcohol illegal, outlawing 
guns and dissolving the narcotics bureau 
of the Los Angeles police force. So one 
episode out of 10,000 LSD cases is no 
reason for any kind of hand wringing 
and grandmotherly panic. 
PIAYBOY: A recent case of this nature in- 
volved a young man who contended that 
he killed his mother-in-law while he was 
on LSD. Isn't that a cause for concern? 
LEARY: Yes but only because this one ep- 
isode has led to some psychiatrists and 
police calling LSD a homicidal drug. 
Actually, there's no evidence that that 
unfortunate boy ever took LSD. He was 
obviously attempting a cop-out when he 
talked to the police about it afterward. 
PIAYBOY: There have also been reports of 
suicide under the influence of LSD. Does 
this happen? 

LEARY: In 23 years of LSD use, there has 
been one definite case of suicide during 
the LSD session. This was a woman in 
Switzerland who'd been given LSD with- 
out her knowledge. She thought she was 
going crazy and jumped out of the win- 
dow. But it wasn't that the LSD poi- 
soned her. The unexpected LSD led to 
such panic and confusion that she killed 
herself. There have been other rumors 
about LSD panics leading to suicide, but 
I am waiting for the scientific evidence. 
In more than a million LSD cases, there 
haven't been more than one or two doc- 
umented cases of homicide or suicide at- 
tributable to the LSD experience. 
PLAYBOY: Though it hasn't led to any re- 
ported deaths, a number of LSD panics 
have been attributed to the experience 
of many users, in the midst of a session, 
that they're about to have a heart attack. 
Is this a common occurrence? 
LEARY: Fairly common. When somebody 
says to us in an LSD session, "My heart's 
going to stop!" we say, "OK, fine. 
That's a new experience, nothing to be 
afraid of. Let it stop." There is no phys- 
iological change in your heart, but the 
experience is that the heart is stopping. 
On LSD, you see, you may actually hear 
the thump of your heartbeat. You be- 
come aware of its pulsing nerves and 
muscle fibers straining for the next beat. 
How can they possibly do this over and 
over again? If you're unprepared for it, 
this can become a terror that it cannot 
continue. Because of LSD's distention of 
the time dimension, you may wait what 
seems like five hours for the second beat. 
Then you wait again, and you wait, and 
you are aware of the millions of cells 
that must be tiring out; they may not 
have the strength to beat again. You're 
afraid that your heart is going to burst. 
Then finally thump! At last! But did 
it come slower this time? Is it Stopping? 
You feel the blood throbbing in your 



heart. You feel the ventricles opening 
and closing; there's a hole in your 
heart! The blood is flooding your 
body! You're drowning in your own 
blood! "Help! Get me a doctor!" you 
may shout. If this kind of episode occurs, 
of course, all that's necessary to allay 
your fears are a few words of under- 
standing and reassurance from an expe- 
rienced guide and companion, who 
should be with you at all times. 
PIAYBOY: Dr. Jonathan Cole, of the Na- 
tional Institute of Mental Health, has 
said that psychedelic drugs "can be dan- 
gerous. . . . People go into panic states 
in which they are ready to jump out of 
their skins. . . . The benefits are ob- 
scure." What do you say? 
LEARY: Based on the evidence that Dr. 
Cole has had at hand, he is justified in 
saying that. Dr. Cole undoubtedly has 
never taken LSD himself. He has spoh- 
sored research that has been done in- 
deed, must be done in mental hospitals, 
under psychiatric supervision. But this is 
the worst possible place to take LSD. 
Take LSD in a nuthouse and you'll have 
a nuthouse experience. These poor pa- 
tients are usually not even told what 
drugs they're given; they're not pre- 
pared. I consider this psychological rape. 
So I'm not surprised that the cases Dr. 
Cole has heard about from his research- 
ers are negative. 

But Dr. Cole doesn't listen to the 
hundreds of thousands of people who 
have taken LSD under intelligent, aes- 
thetic, carefully planned circumstances 
and have had their lives changed for the 
better. He doesn't receive the hundred 
letters a week that I receive from people 
who are profoundly grateful to have 
been dramatically opened up by LSD. 
He hears only the horror stories. If you 
talk to a mortician, you'll come to the 
conclusion that everyone who is of any 
importance is dead. If you talk to a law- 
enforcement officer, you'll find that prac- 
tically everyone is a criminal, actual or 
potential. And if you talk to a psychi- 
atrist, you'll hear nothing but gloomy 
lexicons of psychopathology. What Dr. 
Cole thinks about LSD is irrelevant, be- 
cause for every case that his Federal re- 
searchers have studied, there are 5000 
serious-minded, courageous young lay- 
men out in the universities and out in 
the seminaries and in their own homes 
and on the beaches who are taking 
LSD and having fantastically beautiful 
experiences. 

PLAYBOY: When you testified in May be- 
fore a Senate subcommittee investigating 
juvenile delinquency and drugs, you 
took your teenage son and daughter 
along. Why not Mrs. Leary? 
LEARY: The mother of my two children 
died in 1955. 

PLAYBOY: Didn't you marry again? 
LEARY: Yes to a beautiful model named 
Mena. The LSD session I described 
earlier was with her. 



PIAYBOY: To return to your children: 
Have you allowed or encouraged them 
to use marijuana and LSD? 
LEARY: Yes. I have no objection to them 
expanding their consciousness through 
the' use of sacramental substances in ac- 
cord with their spiritual growth and 
well-being. At Harvard, in Mexico and 
here at Millbrook, both of my children 
have witnessed more psychedelic sessions 
than any psychiatrist in the country. 
PLAYBOY: At most of the psychedelic ses- 
sions you've conducted in the course of 
research, as you've said elsewhere, you 
and your associates have turned on with 
your subjects and not in the laboratory 
but on beaches, in meadows, living rooms 
and even Buddhist temples. In the opin- 
ion of most authorities, this highly un- 
conventional therapeutic technique is 
not only impractical but irrational and 
irresponsible. How do you justify it? 
LEARY: This sort of criticism has ruined 
my reputation in conventional research 
circles, but it simply betrays ignorance 
of the way LSD works. You have to take 
it with your patient or at least to have 
taken it yourself -in order to empathize 
with and follow him as he goes from one 
level to another. If the therapist has 
never taken it, he's sitting there with 
his sticky molasses Freudian psychiatric 
chessboard attempting to explain experi- 
ences that are far beyond the narrow 
limits of that particular system. 
PLAYBOY: You've also been criticized for 
being insufficiently selective in the 
screening of subjects to whom you've 
administered LSD. 

LEARY: We have been willing and eager 
to run LSD sessions with anyone in any 
place that made collaborative sense to 
me and the subject. We've never given 
LSD to anyone for our own selfish pur- 
poses, or for selfish purposes of his own; 
but if any reasonably stable individual 
wanted to develop his own consciousness, 
we turned him on. This ruined our 
reputation with scientists, of course, but 
it also made possible a fantastically suc- 
cessful record: 99 percent of the people 
who took LSD with us had fabulous ex- 
periences. None of our subjects flipped 
out and went to Bellevue; they walked 
out of the session room with messianic 
gleams in their eyes. 
PLAYBOY: Even if only one percent of 
your subjects had bad experiences, is it 
worth the risk? 

LEARY: That question can be answered 
only by the individual. When men set 
out for Plymouth in a leaky boat to pur- 
sue a new spiritual way of life, of course 
they were taking risks. But the risks of 
the voyage were less than the risks of re- 
maining in a spiritual plague area, im- 
mobilized from the possibility of change 
by their fears of taking a risk. No Gov- 
ernment bureau or Big Brother doctor 
can be allowed to decide who is going to 
take the risks involved in this 20th 
Century voyage of spiritual discovery. 



PLAYBOY: Yet restrictive and prohibitive 
laws against the use of LSD have already 
been passed in California, Nevada and 
New Jersey, and several members of 
Congress have urged Federal legislation 
outlawing its manufacture or possession. 
LEARY: Such laws are unrealistic and un- 
constitutional. Over 15 percent of col- 
lege students are currently using LSD. 
Do the hard-arteried politicians and po- 
lice types really want to put our bright- 
est and most creative youngsters in prison 
for possession of a colorless, odorless, 
tasteless, nonaddictive, mind-opening sub- 
stance? Irrational, senile legislation pre- 
venting people from pursuing private, 
intimate experiences sexual or spiritual 
cannot and will not be obeyed. We are 
currently planning to appeal any convic- 
tion for possession of LSD on con- 
stitutional grounds. But the Federal 
Government is opposed to laws penaliz- 
ing possession of LSD, because it 
recognizes the impossibility of enforce- 
ment and the unconstitutionality of 
such statutes. Of course, this ambiguous 
situation is temporary. In 15 years, the 
bright kids who are turning on now will 
be shaping public opinion, writing our 
novels, running our universities and re- 
pealing the hysterical laws that are now 
being passed. 

PLAYBOY: In what way are they hysterical? 
LEARY: They're hysterical because the men 
who are passing them have allowed 
their ignorance of LSD to escalate into 
irrationality. Instinctively, they put LSD 
in the same bag with heroin. They think 
of drug taking as a criminal activity 
practiced by stuporous escapists and 
crazed, deranged minds. The daily di- 
atribes of police officials and many legis- 
lators to that effect completely ignore 
the fact that the use of LSD is a white- 
collar, upper-middle-class, college-educat- 
ed phenomenon. The LSD user is not a 
criminal type. He's not an underground 
character or a junkie. He doesn't seek 
to hide, or to apologize for, his activities. 
But while more and more laws are be- 
ing passed restricting these activities, 
more and more people are engaging 
in them. LSD is being manufactured by 
people in their own homes and in small 
laboratories. If this continues, in ten 
years the LSD group will constitute one 
of our largest minorities. Then what are 
the lawmakers going to do? 
PLAYBOY: What should they do, in your 
opinion? 

LEARY: As they learn more about LSD, I 
think I hope they will recognize that 
there will have to be special legislation. 
There should be laws about the manu- 
facture of LSD. It is incredibly powerful 
and can be a frightening experience. It 
is not a narcotic and not a medical drug; 
it doesn't cure any illness. It is a new 
form of energy. Just as a new form of 
legislation had to be developed for ra- 
dioactive isotopes, so will there need to 
be something comparable for LSD. And 



I think some LSD equivalent of the 
Atomic Energy Commission and some 
special licensing procedures should be set 
up to deal with this new class of drugs. 
PLAYBOY: What sort of procedures would 
you recommend? 

LEARY: You can't legalize and control 
manufacture until you've worked out a 
constructive way of licensing or authoriz- 
ing possession. There are many individ- 
uals who should be provided with a 
legitimate access to chemicals that ex- 
pand their minds. If we don't do this, 
we'll have a free market or a black mar- 
ket. During Prohibition, when alcohol 
was prohibited, it was suppressed; then 
you had bathtub gin and bootleg poisons 
of all sorts. The Government received no 
taxes and the consumer had no guaran- 
tee that what he was buying was safe 
and effective. But if marijuana and LSD 
were put under some form of licensing 
where responsible, serious-minded people 
could purchase these chemicals, then 
the manufacture could be supervised 
and the sales could be both regulated 
and taxed. A healthy and profitable situ- 
ation would result for all involved. 
PLAYBOY: How would a person demon- 
strate his responsibility and serious- 
mindedness in applying for a license? 
LEARY: The criteria for licensing the use 
of mild psychedelics like marijuana 
should be similar to those for the auto- 
mobile license. The applicant would 
demonstrate his seriousness by studying 
manuals, passing written tests and get- 
ting a doctor's certificate of psychological 
and physical soundness. The licensing 
for use of powerful psychedelic drugs 
like LSD should be along the lines of 
the airplane pilot's license: intensive 
study and preparation, plus very stringent 
testing for fitness and competence. 
PLAYBOY: What criteria would you use for 
determining fitness and competence? 
LEARY: No one has the right to tell any- 
one else what he should or should not 
do with this great and last frontier of 
freedom. I think that anyone who wants 
to have a psychedelic experience and is 
willing to prepare for it and to examine 
his own hang-ups and neurotic tenden- 
cies should be allowed to have a crack 
at it. 

PLAYBOY: Have you had the opportunity 
to present this plan to the Federal Nar- 
cotics Bureau? 

LEARY: I would be most happy to, but 
the Narcotics people don't want any sort 
of objective, equal-play consideration of 
these issues. When anyone suggests the 
heretical notion that LSD be made avail- 
able to young people, or even hints, let 
us say, at the necessity for scientific 
evaluation of marijuana, he is immedi- 
ately labeled as a dangerous fanatic and 
is likely to be investigated. This certain- 
ly has been demonstrated by reactions 
of people asked to contribute to my 
legal defense fund. There are hundreds 
who have contributed but who realis- 
tically cannot afford to have their names 



involved in such a case, because they 
believe public identity may lead to in- 
vestigatory persecution. 

playboy is among the rare institutions 
that will tackle an issue of this sort. 
There is an enormous amount of periph- 
eral harassment. For example, I couldn't 
get bail bond after my indictment in La- 
redo, and I had to put up cash. This is- 
sue has generated so much hysteria that 
the normal processes of democratic de- 
bate are consistently violated. When sev- 
eral million Americans can't have their 
voices heard and can't get objective and 
scientific consideration of their position, 
I think that the Constitution is in danger. 
PLAYBOY: There are some who see the ap- 
peal of your conviction in Laredo as a 
step leading to legalization of marijuana. 
Do you think that's possible? 
LEARY: If I win my case in the higher 
courts and my lawyers believe I will 
this will have wide implications. It will 
suggest that future arrests for marijuana 
must be judged on the merits of the in- 
dividual case rather than a blanket, arbi- 
trary implementation of irrational and 
excessive regulation. I consider the mari- 
juana laws to be unjust laws. My 30-year 
sentence and $30,000 fine simply pointed 
up in a rather public way the severity 
and harshness of the current statutes, 
which are clearly in violation of several 
amendments to the Constitution. 
PLAYBOY: Which amendments? 
LEARY: The First Amendment, which 
guarantees the right of spiritual explora- 
tion; and the Fifth Amendment, which 
guarantees immunity from self-incrimina- 
tion. The fact that I'm being imprisoned 
for not paying a tax on a substance that, 
if I had applied for a license, would 
have led to my automatic arrest, is clear- 
ly self-incrimination. The current mari- 
juana statutes are also in violation of 
the Eighth Amendment, which forbids 
cruel and unusual punishments; and of 
the Ninth Amendment, which guarantees 
certain personal liberties not specifically 
enumerated in the other amendments. 
PLAYBOY: The implications of your arrest 
and conviction in Laredo were still 
being debated when the police raided 
your establishment here in Millbrook. 
We've read several different versions of 
just what took place that night. Will you 
give us a step-by-step account? 
LEARY: Gladly. On Saturday, April 16th, 
there were present at our center in Mill- 
brook 29 adults and 12 children. Among 
them were three Ph. D. psychologists, one 
M. D. psychiatrist, three physicists, five 
journalists on professional assignments 
and three photographers. At one-thirty 
a.m., all but three guests had retired. I 
was in bed. My son and a friend of his 
were in the room talking to me about a 
term paper that my son was writing. We 
heard a noise outside in the hallway. My 
son opened the door, slammed it and 
said, "Wow, Dad, there's about fifty cops 
out there!" I jumped out of bed and 
was in the middle of the room when the 



door burst open and two uniformed 
sheriffs and two assistant district attor- 
neys marched in and told me not to 
move. I was wearing only pajama tops. 

One of the sheriff's statements to the 
press was that the raiding party discov- 
ered most of the occupants in the house 
in a state of semi-undress which sounds 
pretty lurid until you realize that almost 
everyone in the house was in bed asleep 
at the time of the raid. After the initial 
shock of finding armed and uniformed 
men in our bedrooms, all of my guests 
reacted with patience, humor and toler- 
ance to five hours of captivity. The 
members of the raiding party, on the 
other hand, were extremely nervous. It's 
obvious that they had in mind some 
James Bond fantasy of invading the Ori- 
ental headquarters of some sexual 
smersh, and they were extremely jumpy 
as they went about their search of the 
entire house. One interesting aspect of 
the raid was that all of the women pres- 
ent were stripped and searched. 
PLAYBOY: Did anyone object? 
LEARY: We objected to everything that 
was being done, including the fact that 
we could not have a lawyer present. 
PLAYBOY: What did the police find during 
the search? 

LEARY: After a five-hour search, they ar- 
rested four people: a photographer here 
on a professional assignment, and a 
Hindu holy man and his wife all of 
whom they alleged had marijuana in 
their possession and myself. There was 
no claim that I had any marijuana in my 
possession or control; the charge involved 
my being the director of the house. 
PLAYBOY: Did they have a warrant? 
LEARY: They had a warrant, but we claim 
it was defective and illegal. 
PLAYBOY: In what way? 
LEARY: In the Bill of Rights it clearly 
states that the Government cannot just 
swear out a warrant to go into anyone's 
house on general suspicion and specula- 
tion. Specifically, a search warrant can 
be issued only on the basis of tangible 
evidence, usually from an informer, that 
a specific amount of defined, illegal sub- 
stance is present at a certain place and 
time. There was no such probable cause 
for the raid at Millbrook. Among the 
"causes" cited was that cars with out-of- 
state licenses were parked in my drive- 
way, and that girls under the age of 16 
were playing around the yard on a cer- 
tain day when it was under surveillance. 
PLAYBOY: How would that be a cause? 
LEARY: How, indeed? Another alleged 
"cause" for the raid was that I am "a 
known and admitted trafficker in drugs." 
Well, none of these espionage reports 
seem to me or to my lawyers to justify 
the issuance of a no-knock, nighttime 
warrant that authorized the breaking of 
windows and doors to obtain entry to a 
private house. 

PLAYBOY: What is the current status of 
the charges against you? 



LEARY: We are now involved in nine 
pieces of litigation on this raid. The 
American Civil Liberties Union has en- 
tered the case with a supporting brief, 
and while I can't comment on the tech- 
nicalities of the litigation, we have a 
large group of bright young turned- 
on civil libertarian lawyers walking 
around with smiles on their faces. 
PLAYBOY: Do you mean that your lawyers 
are on LSD? 

LEARY: I don't feel I should comment on 
that. Let me say, however, that you don't 
need to use anything to be turned on, in 
the sense that you've tuned in to the 
world. 

PLAYBOY: Dr. Humphrey Osmond of the 
New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute 
the man who coined the word "psyche- 
delic" has described you as "Irish and 
revolutionary, and to a good degree reck- 
less." He was suggesting that if you had 
been more careful, you might not have 
been arrested in Laredo or Millbrook. 
LEARY: I plead guilty to the charges of 
being an Irishman and a revolutionary. 
But I don't think I'm careless about any- 
thing that's important. 
PLAYBOY: Wasn't it careless to risk the loss 
of your freedom by carrying a half ounce 
of marijuana into Mexico? 
LEARY: Well, that's like saying: Wouldn't 
it be careless for a Christian to carry the 
Bible to Russia? I just can't be bothered 
with paranoias about wire tapping, sur- 
veillance and police traps. It's been well 
known for several years that I'm using 
psychedelic drugs in my own home and 
in my own center for the use of myself 
and my own family. So at any time the 
Government wanted to make an issue of 
this, it certainly could. But I can't live 
my life in secrecy or panic paranoia. I've 
never bothered to take a lot of elemen- 
tary precautions, for example, about my 
phone being bugged or my actions being 
under surveillance both of which the 
police admit. I would say that if there 
was carelessness in Laredo, it was care- 
lessness on the part of the Government 
officials in provoking a case that has al- 
ready changed public attitudes and will 
inevitably change the law on the posses- 
sion and use of marijuana by thoughtful 
adults in this country. The Narcotics Bu- 
reau is in trouble. I'm not. 
PLAYBOY: But suppose all appeals fail and 
you do go to prison. What will happen 
to your children and to your work? 
LEARY: My children will continue to grow 
externally and internally and they 
and all of my friends and colleagues will 
continue to communicate what they've 
learned to a world that certainly needs 
such lessons. As to where and how they 
will live, I can't predict. 
PLAYBOY: Have you made any provision 
for their financial support? 
LEARY: At the present time I'm $40,000 
in debt for legal expenses, and I have 
made no provisions for eating lunch to- 
morrow. But we'll cross that bridge 



when we come to it. 
PLAYBOY: Do you dread the prospect of 
imprisonment? 

LEARY: Well, I belong to one of the old- 
est trade unions in human civilization 
the alchemists of the mind, the scholars 
of consciousness. The threat of imprison- 
ment is the number-one occupational 
hazard of my profession. Of the great 
men of the past whom I hold up as mod- 
els, almost every one of them has been 
either imprisoned or threatened with im- 
prisonment for their spiritual beliefs: 
Gandhi, Jesus, Socrates, Lao-tse. I have 
absolutely no fear of imprisonment. 
First of all, I've taken LSD over 40 times 
in a maximum-security prison as part of 
a convict rehabilitation project we did 
in Boston; so I know that the only real 
prisons are internal. Secondly, a man 
who feels no guilt about his behavior 
has no fear of imprisonment; I have not 
one shred of guilt about anything I've 
done in the last six years. I've made 
hundreds of mistakes, but I've never 
once violated my own ethical or moral 
values. I'm the freest man in America 
today. If you're free in mind and heart, 
you're not in trouble. I think that the 
people who are trying to put other 
people in jail and to control basic evolu- 
tionary energies like sex and psychedelic 
chemicals are in trouble, because they're 
swimming upstream against the two- 
billion-year tide of cellular evolution. 
PLAYBOY: What would you say is the most 
important lesson you've learned from 
your personal use of LSD? 
LEARY: First and last, the understanding 
that basic to the life impulse is the ques- 
tion, "Should we go on with life?" This 
is the only real issue, when you come 
down to it, in the evolutionary cosmic 
sense: whether to make it with a mem- 
ber of the opposite sex and keep it going 
or not to. At the deepest level of con- 
sciousness, this question comes up over 
and over again. I've struggled with it in 
scores of LSD sessions. How did we 
get here and into this mess? How do we 
get out? There are two ways out of the 
basic philosophic isolation of man: You 
can ball your way out by having chil- 
dren, which is immortality of a sort. Or 
you can step off the wheel. Buddhism, 
the most powerful psychology that man 
has ever developed, says essentially that. 
My choice, however, is to keep the life 
game going. I'm. Hindu, not Buddhist. 
Beyond this affirmation of my own 
life, I've learned to confine my attention 
to the philosophic questions that hit on 
the really shrieking, crucial issues: Who 
wrote the cosmic script? What does the 
DNA code expect of me? Is the big 
genetic-code show live or on tape? Who 
is the sponsor? Are we completely trapped 
inside our nervous systems, or can we 
make real contact with anyone else out 
there? I intend to spend the rest of my 
life, with psychedelic help, searching for 
the answers to these questions and en- 



couraging others to do the same. 
PIAYBOY: What role do you think psyche- 
delics will play in the everyday life of 
the future? 

IEARY: A starring role. LSD is only the 
first of many new chemicals that will 
exhilarate learning, expand consciousness 
and enhance memory in years to come. 
These chemicals will inevitably revolu- 
tionize our procedures of education, 
child rearing and social behavior. With- 
in one generation, through the use of 
these chemical keys to the nervous sys- 
tem as regular tools of learning, you will 
be asking your children, when they come 
home from school, not "What book are 
you reading?" but "Which molecules are 
you using to open up new Libraries of 
Congress inside your nervous system?" I 
don't know if there'll ever be courses in 
Marijuana 1A and IB, as a prerequisite 
to LSD 101, but there's no doubt that 
chemicals will be the central method of 
education in the future. The reason for 
this, of course, is that the nervous sys- 
tem, and learning and memory itself, is a 
chemical process. A society in which 
a large percentage of the population 
changes consciousness regularly and har- 
moniously with psychedelic drugs will 
bring about a very different way of life. 
PLAYBOY: Will there be a day, as some 
science-fiction writers predict, when 
people will be taking trips, rather than 
drinks, at psychedelic cocktail parties? 
LEARY: It's happening already. In this 
country, there are already functions at 
which LSD may be served. I was at a 
large dance recently where two thirds of 
the guests were on LSD. And during a 
scholarly LSD conference in San Francis- 
co a few months ago, I went along with 
400 people on a picnic at which almost 
everyone turned on with LSD. It was 
very serene: They were like a herd of 



deer in the forest. 

In years to come, it will be possible to 
have a lunch-hour psychedelic session; 
in a limited way, that can be done now 
with DMT, which has a very fast action, 
lasting perhaps a half hour. It may be 
that there will also be large reservations, 
of maybe 30 or 40 square miles, where 
people will go to have LSD sessions in 
tranquil privacy. 

PLAYBOY: Will the psychedelic experience 
become universal? Will everyone be 
turned on? 

LEARY: Well, not all the time. There will 
always be some functions that require a 
narrow form of consciousness. You don't 
want your airplane pilot flying higher 
than the plane and having Buddhist rev- 
elations in the cockpit. Just as you don't 
play golf on Times Square, you won't 
want to take LSD where narrow, symbol- 
manipulating attention is required. In 
a sophisticated way, you'll attune the 
desired level of consciousness to the par- 
ticular surrounding that will feed and 
nourish you. 

No one will commit his life to any sin- 
gle level of consciousness. Sensible use of 
the nervous system would suggest that a 
quarter of our time will be spent in sym- 
bolic activities producing and commu- 
nicating in conventional, tribal ways. 
But the fully conscious life schedule will 
also allow considerable time perhaps an 
hour or two a day devoted to the yoga of 
the senses, to the enhancement of sensual 
ecstasies through marijuana and hashish; 
and one day a week to completely 
moving outside the sensory and symbolic 
dimensions into the transcendental realms 
that are open to you through LSD. This 
is not science-fiction fantasy. 1 have lived 
most of the last six years until the re- 
cent unpleasantness doing exactly that: 
taking LSD once a week and smoking 



marijuana once a day. 
PLAYBOY: How will this psychedelic regi- 
men enrich human life? 
LEARY: It will enable each person to 
realize that he is not a game-playing 
robot put on this planet to be given a 
Social Security number and to be spun 
on the assembly line of school, col- 
lege, career, insurance, funeral, goodbye. 
Through LSD, each human being will 
be taught to understand that the entire 
history of evolution is recorded inside his 
body; the challenge of the complete hu- 
man life will be for each person to 
recapitulate and experientially explore 
every aspect and vicissitude of this an- 
cient and majestic wilderness. Each per- 
son will become his own Buddha, his 
own Einstein, his own Galileo. Instead 
of relying on canned, static, dead knowl- 
edge passed on from other symbol pro- 
ducers, he will be using his span of 80 or 
so years on this planet to live out every 
possibility of the human, prehuman and 
even subhuman adventure. As more re- 
spect and time are diverted to these ex- 
plorations, he will be less hung up on 
trivial, external pastimes. And this may 
be the natural solution to the problem of 
leisure. When all of the heavy work and 
mental drudgery are taken over by ma- 
chines, what are we going to do with 
ourselves build even bigger machines? 
The obvious and only answer to this pe- 
culiar dilemma is that man is going to 
have to explore the infinity of inner 
space, to discover the terror and adven- 
ture and ecstasy that lie within us all. 



'Reprinted from the September 1966 issue of PLAYBOY magazine; 
Copyright 1966 by HMH Publishing Co., Inc."